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The Figure in the Shadows (Lewis Barnavelt #2)

3.97 of 5 stars 3.97  ·  rating details  ·  1,248 ratings  ·  61 reviews
Lewis is sure that Grandpa Barnavelt's 1859 lucky coin is really a magic talisman in disguise. With its power, he could do anything he wanted--like get back at bully Woody Mingo. But as soon as he begins wearing the coin around his neck, strange things start to happen. Mysterious letters arrive in the dead of night. A strange, shadowy figure seems to be tracking him. And w...more
Hardcover, 155 pages
Published December 1st 1999 by Peter Smith Publisher (first published 1975)
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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 1,755)
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mark monday
John Bellairs' series featuring the adventures of young Lewis Barnavelt and his friend Rose Rita is a surprisingly gray and realistic offering, despite the magic and tenderness. in my mind, it is what elevates it: even kids' lit shouldn't always be glowing, romantic wish fulfillment. fiction for children can sometimes have heroes full of self-hate and and reluctance and duplicity. it can have magic that is threatening and that is less of a toy and more of window into a terrible world that kids s...more
Tara Lynn
This was a great second effort from Bellairs, following the stories of Lewis and Rose Rita through yet another story. As mentioned in other reviews, I think I would have enjoyed the illustrations more if edward Gorey had done them, like he did in the first book. Otherwise, while Mercer Mayer is great, (he illustrated so many of my favorite books, INCLUDING the Great Brain series) he's just not as dark and gothic as Gorey.
Currerbelfry
My favorite kiddie/YA book, probably one of my favorite books period.

Louis Barnavelt lives in 1950's suburban Michigan with his uncle, who is a practicing warlock. The next-door neighbor is a witch, and her granddaughter Rose Rita is Louis' best friend. (This book was written LONG before Harry Potter came on the scene, BTW.) Louis is chubby and fearful, and is beat on by the local bullies, but his home life is great. As a kid, I wanted to move in with Louis and his uncle (I probably still do).

T...more
Kater Cheek
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Trish
In this second in the Lewis Barnavelt series, a figure comes back from the grave when Lewis enables an old Civil War amulet. In a way, these books are amulets of a sort: they bring the very powerful voice of John Bellairs back from the grave to enable, energize, and strengthen the individualistic muscle in every kid--to fight back against bullies and to accept who they are and how they look. Bellairs is a man who can bridge that gap between childhood and adulthood, and help kids over the rough b...more
Anna
Aug 20, 2008 Anna rated it 3 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: young readers who want something mildly scary
Shelves: 2008, children, horror, fiction
I think this must be one of Bellairs' tamest and potentially most relate-able books for children - the conflict in the story comes almost as much from a school bully as it does from the evil spirit Lewis Barnavelt accidentally summons up. Lewis's struggles with fitting in at school and in his friendship with Rose Rita provide opportunities for children to connect with the story, while the fantastic/frightening elements take things just out of the realm of reality (but not too far!). The serious...more
Jon
The second book about Lewis Barnavelt is still fun and cool. The entrance of Rose Rita as Lewis' only friend is nice and their friendship is fun to read. The shadowy figure is a scary dude (just check out the pictures of him). Mercer Mayer's pictures are cool, but overall just had me wondering how Edward Gorey would have illustrated this book. It also felt like the quirky coolness of The House With a Clock in It's Walls had fallen by the wayside. Bellairs' peculiar, Gorey-esque writing in House...more
Sam Treadwell
Book Review
The Best of John Bellairs; The Figure in the Shadows
Sam Treadwell

I read the book The Figure in the Shadows (the second part of the trilogy The Best of John Bellairs). This trilogy has several characters including: Lewis (main character), Rose Rita (Lewis’s best friend), Mrs. Zimmerman (the witch neighbor of Lewis and Jonathan), Uncle Jonathan (the man who takes care of Lewis), and lastly Woody Mingo (the bully).

To summarize this story, Lewis is a weak short boy who encounters the s...more
Melinda
When I read this as a kid, I found it deliciously creepy. I finished reading it with my nine-year-old son and still found it a little creepy in places. I asked my son just before leaving him for the night in his dark basement room if he thought it was a scary book. "No." His answer was completely unconcerned. He asked me to get another in the series for him to read on his own.
Corwin
I'm only going to say this once, but it may take a while. Wizards and witches are supposed to be ... uh, preternatural beings? Otherworldly, if only fractionally? Nay, I say! What John Bellairs has managed to do, that so many others haven't before or since, is tuck tenderness into the folds of awe and terror. Sure, it's a kids' book, but it's a hell of a sight more human and graceful and real than much of what I've seen betwixt Sir Gowain and the Green Knight and Lord Demon! Not my fave, but sti...more
Heather
I was a little sad that this book isn't illustrated by Edward Gorey like The House with a Clock in Its Walls was. This book is the sequel to that one, and introduces us to Lewis Barnavelt's friend, Rose Rita Pottinger, who was mentioned briefly near the end of the first book. Rose Rita is a tomboy who's brash where Lewis is scared; the two are in sixth grade together and the first thing we hear about Rose Rita is that she's been kept after school for "sassing" the teacher. Lewis, meanwhile, is o...more
Morgan
There are a couple of big problems with this book.

It is a sequel so one can't help but compare this book to the original. Now I'm not saying that the original was a masterpiece and this was a drop in quality, rather instead, that the first book established what you were going to get from the series and then the second book didn't deliver any of it. In the first book, the main character's parents die and he comes to live with his lively, caring, magic-wielding uncle and his "friend" who also hap...more
Myles
There was something off about this one. The House With A Clock In Its Walls had originally been written as a regular novel and only later rewritten for the juvenile market. That might be the difference. Lewis has finally made a good friend in Rose-Rita Pottinger, but is also become the target of a bully, Woody Mingo. That bully is the reason he begins to fixate so much on his great-grandfather's "lucky piece", a three-cent coin, even though Mrs. Zimmerman tells him its not magical.

Lewis' Uncle J...more
Lisa Kucharski
This is the second book in the Lewis Barnavelt series, and while it contains a lot of magic and scary things,... the plot just too slow and things don't add up from point to point and then have to be explained at the end.

Lewis is given a coin that is said to be a lucky charm of a grandfather, Ms. Zimmerman says it is not magic. Lewis discovers it is... and then has dreams, ideas etc... for many many chapter. Then it also seems to draw out a sinister creature. However, it seems just as something...more
Kymali
The Figure In The shadows
By John Bellairs

Me and my partner are very far in this book and we feel that this a book is really great and I feel that it is a good book for kids to read and now I think that this book is funny interesting and very breath taking for the reader. I really like how the can comprehend on the book and feel just like there in the characters shoes. I love and enjoy reading this book because it is breath taking and enjoyable which can grab the reader and they start to love...more
Melissa


Have you ever had a feeling about something but other people are trying to convince you to feel a different way about it? Well in this book Lewis had a feeling that a coin he found was magical but everyone else was trying to convince him otherwise.This fiction book is a mystery. I think that this book was interesting because the main character Lewis Barnavelt was getting bullied by another boy named Woody Mingo and one day while Lewis,Uncle Jonathan, Rose Rita, and Mrs.Zimmerman were looking th...more
Derek
The sequel to THE HOUSE WITH A CLOCK IN ITS WALLS is another solid gothic adventure. It's not quite up to the standard of CLOCK, but Bellairs does a nice job of balancing the fears and concerns of children with the supernatural and creepy.
Kevin
A great sequel to "The House With The Clock In Its' Walls". I read this book first and then discovered there was a book before this one. Once again the writing and illustrations are wonderful.
Angie
Jun 22, 2012 Angie rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: anyone who enjoys juvenile fiction and Harry Potter fans.
June 22, 2012
Love it even more after the second read.


August 22, 2008

I discovered John Bellairs a few years ago. It was, I believe, the year Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix was published. It hadn't yet been released and I was looking for something similar to HP to read. I don't remember how I came across his books, but it was an amazing discovery. That year, I read every John Bellairs and John Bellairs/Brad Strickland book. I enjoyed them so much that I plan on reading them all again.
Vered
Young Lewis has what he figures is a lucky coin, and he plans on using its powers to get back at the bullies who enjoy picking on him at school. But what starts off as good luck quickly turns bad as the coin releases a dark and angry force that lurks in the shadows. And Lewis is the next target.

This is a tightly written story that flows smoothly between amusing and spooky. The quirky characters are well fleshed out and original. Lewis is a sweet but bumbling boy who is no hero but desperately wa...more
Lia
I love Bellairs' scary mysteries. I loved them as a child, too. They were just scary enough so I would make a running leap for the bed in the darkened room, but not scary enough to keep me awake. I also feel like he takes his young characters seriously. That even when the young mind is passionately irrational, it is still real.

I read the copy with Edward Gorey's perfect illustrations. Really, he's the perfect choice.
Ruthie
I was revisiting my childhood with this one. Really I wanted to read the first book in the series - "The House With a Clock in its Walls" - but this was all that my library had on the shelf. It wasn't as creepy as I remembered. When questions were all answered at the end, it was a lot less complex than I expected. I think that's a sign of the simpler time that this book was written in...
Km
Read this to my 5 and 8 y.o. as it was one of my childhood favorites. As an adult I am finding it good but not as action packed as other books out there (a la Harry Potter). Nevertheless a good read with suspense and mystery for a younger audience.
Christian
This is the sequel to The House with a Clock in its Walls but the first Bellairs book I read. It has an appealing combination of mystery and gothic horror and down-to-earth sort of approach to magic (one of the characters has a Doctor of Magic Arts degree from the University of Gottingen). Written for young readers.
Marjanne
Oct 17, 2007 Marjanne rated it 3 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: anyone who likes children's mystery
Another quick (I read it in one afternoon)and fun read. I did not think that this second book in the Lewis Barnavelt series was a strong as the first ("The House With A Clock In Its Walls). But it was fun and Lewis, Rose Rita, Uncle Johathan, and Mrs. Zimmerman are enjoyable characters.
Jennifer
This was another good John Bellairs read. I really enjoyed the characters from the first book so it was nice to continue their story in this one. I also enjoyed Mercer Meyer's illustrations and thought it was neat to see him do something different from his norm.
Nawfal
Lewis is not as awesome as Johnny Dixon. However, Rose Rita is pretty dang cool. This is one scary, creepy story, and I can see how people give it 5 stars. Bellairs is a master of designing atmosphere and environment so that it is chilly and disturbing.
happydog
Oct 21, 2007 happydog rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: juvenile fiction readers.
This was my favorite book as a young elementary schooler. I read anything spooky I could get my hands on! I love the inside illustrations- but miss the original book cover illustration. Why do they always have to change the cover in newer editions?
Janice Schulz
This is the first chapter book I ever read when I was a kid. I read it over and over and I STILL pick it up and read it every once in a while. It's a great mystery as are all of Bellairs' books. I recommend to kids and adults both.
Tanvir
Jan 16, 2008 Tanvir rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Mr.Genie
Recommended to Tanvir by: Tanvir Agnihotri
This book is the second in the Lewis Barnavelt series. What rocks about this series is that there are three different miniseries in the collection. This wayy you don't get bored. This book is out of this world. Literally!
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John Bellairs (1938–1991) was an American novelist working primarily in the Gothic genre. He is best-known for the children's classic The House with a Clock in its Walls 1973) and for the pathbreaking fantasy novel The Face in the Frost (1969). Bellairs held a bachelor's degree from Notre Dame University and a master's in English from the University of Chicago. He combined writing and teaching fr...more
More about John Bellairs...
The House With a Clock in Its Walls (Lewis Barnavelt, #1) The Curse of the Blue Figurine The Letter, the Witch, and the Ring (Lewis Barnavelt, #3) The Mummy, the Will, and the Crypt The Spell of Sorcerer's Skull

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